If you’ve ever flipped through the seasonal Adventure Playbook – packed with colorful pictures that showcase all the fun to be had at the Fox Valley Park District – it’s easy to see the vast spectrum of programs from which parents and children can choose to fill their activity calendars.
But for all the smiling faces, soaked swimsuits and bedazzled princesses, there are kids who don’t have the luxury of choice.
They can only wish.
Thanks to the generosity of a private donor and the Aurora Sunrise Rotary Club, 31 underserved children collected a week’s worth of memories sure to last a lifetime by participating in the FVPD’s Spring Blast Camp, held March 29 to April 2 at Eola Community Center during the height of the pandemic.
District officials offered camp to families who attended eCARE at Eola and qualified for financial assistance through the Fox Valley Parks Foundation’s scholarship program, which is designed to help families at or below the federal poverty level.
“We used Spring Blast Camp as an opportunity to provide parents on restricted incomes a safe place for their children, and for the kids an opportunity of a lifetime,” said Katie Kulakowski, recreation supervisor at Eola. “During the week, each minute of the day was filled with an activity that would provide a lasting memory. We focused on having fun.”
The $5,394 total cost for the campers was covered by the donor, who for the past several years has supported our camp programs for kids from homeless shelters, and Sunrise Rotary.
Kulakowski focused the week’s activities on two themes: 1) reusing/repurposing items and materials from your own house or yard, and 2) paying it forward. The two lessons merged during camp’s final activity, when the kids used discarded tennis balls and old t-shirts to make chew and tug toys for the dogs at the Aurora Animal Control & Care facility on River St.
The anonymous donor, who encouraged the children to always be on the lookout for ways to “pay it forward,” stopped into camp one day to check out the activities.
He left with a tie-died face covering, courtesy of the campers he funded to send there.